Pacific police are stepping up the fight against organised crime groups attempting to launder illicit cash and facilitating other economic crime throughout the region, thanks to specialised training delivered by the Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The course, which commenced in February, was attended by 24 police officers from Fiji, Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. The initiative was delivered in partnership with the AFP Law Enforcement Cooperation Program (LECP).

Members from the AFP’s Financial Investigations Team shared investigative techniques that will assist Pacific police partners target the finances and assets of those involved in transnational organised crime.

The participants were taught contemporary investigative techniques, which will help increase capabilities when combatting organised crime syndicates laundering proceeds of crime through the Pacific.

AFP Detective Superintendent Adrian Morton said the delivery of the course was timely following a series of recent drug seizures across the Pacific, including the seizure of 4.3 tonnes of methamphetamine in Fiji.

“This economic crime fighting course has provided a boost to our Pacific law enforcement partners, giving them the tools and techniques to identify and disrupt criminals attempting to use the Pacific as a maritime illicit drugs highway,” Det-Supt Morton said.

“Every dollar organised criminals gain from illicit drug sales helps fund their next big criminal venture.

“Equipping our Pacific partners with the knowledge and skills to disrupt economic crime is part of a collaborative effort to stop many of these organised criminal groups in their tracks.”

Fiji Police Force Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Crime Mesake Waqa said with the evolving criminal landscape aided by technology, law enforcement needed to build capability in this crime type.

“The fight against economic crime is not easy as it is technically complicated,” Assistant Commissioner Waqa said.

“It requires capacity, financial resources and stakeholder engagement, so we thank the AFP for helping upskill our officers in this important crime type.”

Training to enhance the skills of Pacific law enforcement members investigating this crime type forms part of a broader strategy employed by the AFP’s Pacific Transnational Crime Network (PTCN) of Transnational Crime Units (TCUs).

The PTCN is a proactive tactical transnational criminal intelligence network aimed at increasing the capacity of regional counterparts to detect, investigate and disrupt transnational crime in the region.

The PTCN is recognised by Pacific and other international partners as a crucial network in the region as it is the only network that provides central coordination of transnational crime intelligence.

The PTCN is an initiative supported by the AFP, New Zealand Police and the United States Joint Interagency Task Force West. The PTCN currently consists of 28 TCUs based in 20 Pacific Island countries with the Pacific Transnational Crime Coordination Centre (PTCCC) based in Samoa.